Friday, November 6, 2015

October Aces; Paul, Rubin Reach Charlottesville Challenger Semifinals; Gibbs Tops Ahn to Advance to Waco Semifinals

October is a busy month, with major college and junior events in the US, yet this year they were overshadowed by the performances of American teenagers on the Pro Circuit. My review of those titles, as well as the other top results of the month can be found today at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Tommy Paul and Noah Rubin are not featured in last month's Aces column, but they are well on their way to November's with both reaching the semifinals of the $50,000 Charlottesville Challenger.

Rubin defeated fellow qualifier Stefan Kozlov 6-4, 6-4 this afternoon, and will meet unseeded Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland, who defeated No. 5 seed Bjorn Fratangelo 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Rubin got off to a quick start against 17-year-old Kozlov in the rematch of the 2014 Wimbledon boys final, but Kozlov had come back from a set down three times this week (including qualifying), so writing him off was unwise.  Rubin broke at 3-4 to serve for the match, but Kozlov broke back.  The last game, with Kozlov serving, took over 12 minutes, with both players showing off their speed and quickness. Kozlov had three game points, Rubin three match points before the 19-year-old New Yorker converted to reach his first Challenger semifinal.

Paul had much less difficulty advancing to his first Challenger semifinal, defeating Alex Kuznetsov 6-3, 6-1 with a dazzling display of determined aggression, without the errors that often come with such a style.  Paul, who was to have been the top seed in qualifying, but received main draw entry instead as an alternate, hasn't lost more than four games in his first three victories. He will play unseeded Dimitar Kutrovsky of Bulgaria, the former Texas All-American in Saturday's semifinals. Regardless of the result, Paul will move into the ATP Top 300 for the first time.

With Rubin and Paul's wins today, and Ernesto Escobedo's semifinal appearance last week in Monterrey, six different American teens have reached a Challenger semifinal this year.  Jared Donaldson, Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz are the other three.

Jonathan Kelley is in Charlottesville covering the tournament and yesterday he spoke with many players, including Paul, Rubin and doubles finalist Chase Buchanan for his On The Rise Tennis blog.

Live streaming of the event is available at the ATP Challenger website.

Live streaming is also available at the women's $50,000 event in Waco, Texas, but unfortunately the match between former Stanford teammates Nicole Gibbs and Kristie Ahn was not on the lone streamed court. Gibbs, the No. 3 seed, beat Ahn 6-2, 7-5 to run her record to 5-0, and she is the last American standing in Waco, after Anna Tatishvili, the No. 1 seed, lost to No. 8 seed Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay 6-0, 4-6, 7-6(5). The 2012 and 2013 NCAA champion will play No. 5 seed Julia Glushko of Israel Saturday and will also compete in the doubles final, with Vania King.

In the other Pro Circuit event in the US, the $10,000 Birmingham, Alabama Futures, two former and one current college players have reached the semifinals.  No. 2 seed Evan King(Michigan) will play No. 6 seed Jean-Yves Aubone(Florida State) in one semifinal, while current East Tennessee State junior David Biosca, a qualifier, will take on top seed Bastian Trinker of Austria in the other semifinal.

At the ITF Women's Circuit $50,000 tournament in France, Louisa Chirico reached the semifinals with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over top seed Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany. The 19-year-old New Yorker will play No. 3 seed Andreea Mitu of Romania for a place in the final.

Asia Muhammad advanced to the semifinals of the $50,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Australia, where she will face 17-year-old Kimberly Birrell of Australia.